Children infected with COVID-19 have a significantly higher risk of developing type 1 diabetes, according to a new study that analyzed the electronic medical records of more than 1 million patients aged 18 and younger.
Researchers from Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine report that children and adolescents infected with COVID-19 were more likely to develop type 1 diabetes within six months of being diagnosed with COVID. The results of the study were published in the journal JAMA Network Open.
The study showed a 72% increase in new diagnoses of type 1 diabetes in patients with COVID-19 aged 18 or younger, although the study emphasizes that it is not yet clear whether COVID-19 provokes new onset of T1D.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are about 187,000 children and adolescents under the age of 20 with type 1 diabetes.
The research team analyzed de-identified electronic health records of nearly 1.1 million patients age 18 or younger diagnosed with SARS-CoV-2 infection between March 2020 and December 2021 in the United States and 13 other countries. They also analyzed those diagnosed with non-SARS-related respiratory infections during the same period.
The study population was further divided into two groups: patients under 9 years of age and patients aged 10-18 years. After careful statistical matching based on age, demographic characteristics, and family history of diabetes, there were 285,628 individuals in each group, for a total of 571,256 patients.
Among the more than 571,000 pediatric patients, the researchers found the following:
Within six months of SARS-CoV2 infection, 123 patients (0.043%) were newly diagnosed, compared with 72 patients (0.025%) who received a new diagnosis after a non-SARS-CoV2-related respiratory infection, representing a 72% increase in new diagnoses.